Our airplane tickets were purchased four months ago, and finally, on September 4th, we landed in Berlin to start our journey! We are excited, not too jet-lagged and ready for adventure 😉
Mixed first impressions
We have to admit, our first impressions of Berlin were jumbled – though this was probably coloured by jet-lag fog – as we had a few fits and starts on Day 1 and 2 trying to organize a phone card for Europe and the local bike-rental system (which until yesterday had an unresolved issue unfortunately!) .
We strolled up to Postsdamer Platz and the Sony building, and down to Checkpoint Charlie, passing the Memorial to Murdered Jews … and the next day biked around beautiful, though very dry, Tiergarten and visited the Jewish Museum which was very interesting. Yet, it just seemed like a big, somewhat dirty city, which I (the navigator) found difficult to orient us with all the diagonal streets, and offering few smiles or healthy eating options.
Now it’s starting to get interesting…
It wasn’t until our 3rd day – after better sleeps, and a good hostel breakfast – that we discovered why visitors we talked to had said “Oh, I love Berlin!!”.
First of all, Rick Steves took us on a historical tour from the Reichstag, along the famous and glorious Unter den Linden, over Museum Island and finishing at the TV Tower. We learned about the socio-political history of Berlin, the going-up and taking- down of the Wall, Berlin as the seat of the Prussian Empire ruling Germany and the ever-evolving architectural landscape of this incredible city!
Then we visited the Berlinische Museum for some photography and a chronological look at Berlin art over the years. And best yet…a Street Art Tour and visit to the East Side Gallery. Now we’re talking! And because this art “stuff” is a passion of mine, I made a post about Art in Berlin 🙂
By the end of our short five-day stay…
What we discovered is that Berlin is full of young people, loads of art, and has a Naples-like grittiness about it which we love! So, once we got over our impression that some Germans aren’t as friendly or attractive as other Europeans, (and their street system is convoluted, so use a map!), we started discovering the mystery and beauty of the city.
We happened upon hidden gems, such as a maze of gorgeous courtyards in the Hackescher Markt area, a public dance floor under tea lights by the river Spree, delicious pastries, and of course, yummy beer (yes, yummy, and this from a wine-drinker!) that we sipped in the park watching the kids play. There are loads of young families, culturally-mixed markets, and some very quirky architecture mixed in with century-old buildings and a lot of rather unattractive architecture 😉
So, so-long Berlin…until we meet again, when we’d happily visit more of your numerous museums, browse through your markets and streets and taste your beer and cakes!